How to work smarter, not harder, in college

How to work smarter, not harder, in college

Now a day’s school is a bit different.   Students are learning online, and distance learning has become a norm.   But coming up with a structure and striving to work smarter, not harder, will help you to achieve your academic goals.

Working smarter, not harder, means eliminating anything that hinders your progress and utilizing your time wisely to get things done.

Working smarter sometimes means completing the harder task first, prioritizing your needs and establishing your weakness and strength, and planning your to-do list for the following day in the evening.

The following are tips on how to work smarter, not harder, in college.   However, apply what works for you as we are different. What works for me May not likely work for everybody else.

1. Set clear goals and intentions

You need to know clearly what are your short-term goals so as you be able to manage your time for the day.   It’s essential to setting your specific tasks as it will help you to control what you are required to do on any given day.

Planning your day makes you more organized in your intentions and thoughts.

2. Pinpoint the most important task

Working smarter, not harder, is all about identifying the most critical task.

The most important task may not be the task that is the most urgent, but it is the task that will assist you in attaining your goals faster and bring the most significant results.

This most important task should be done starting the day and should not take more than the first three hours.

It can be emailing your professor, writing the weekly calendar, or collecting your class books.

3. Set a conducive working environment

As a college student, Working smarter and not harder is exceptionally crucial in your study.

You need to set an environment that will minimize distraction.

Simple actions such as closing the door while studying, proper lighting, having fresh air, being away from the fridge, or just decluttering your space can enhance your concentration in your study.

4. Write your “NOT TO DO ” list.

As a college student, I know you have ever heard or written a “to-do list” such that once a task is completed is ticked out.

Having a  “not–to–do” list can make you as a college student work smarter, not harder.   For instance,

  • Don’t check your text every twenty minutes.
  • Don’t touch your phone while you are still working
  • Don’t overthink upcoming deadlines; concentrate on today.
  • Don’t do all-nighters.

Having rules and boundaries for yourself will enhance your concentration and reduce distractions.

5. Use a timer

A timer is essential, especially when you have difficulties concentrating.   When you have a tight deadline, you will need to have a timer near you.

Begin by setting time for every task and time yourself every time you start and end the job.

Doing this will not only give you an insight into how much time is needed to complete a similar task, but also it will push you to complete the task and will minimize the chances of multitasking.

6. Set shorter deadlines

Working smarter, not harder, is all about setting shorter deadlines for tasks.

When you give yourself a whole day to complete a task, you are likely to do it in the evening, which will be overwhelming at the last minute.

As a college student, if you have an assignment due at 11.00 pm, try your best to complete it atleast by 8.00 pm so that you can have enough time to review it before submitting it.

More extended deadlines usually result in passive procrastination and dragging your assignment.

7. Take notes by Hand

Writing down your notes enhances your focus more than typing them.   When you are using your computer, may you get more distractions as there will be more emails coming and often the opening of the internet?

Taking notes by Hand is good for creativity and long and short-term memory; it adds to your attention span.   It also enhances the ability to organize and comprehend the information you are reading.

 8. Read to understand, don’t memorize.

Most of the time, memorizing is studying hard, not smarter.   Your attention should focus on comprehending and understanding the knowledge.

Understanding complex topics need you to connect the concept with the knowledge you already have.   When it is not possible to establish the link of previous knowledge with what you are reading, it becomes very challenging the topic.   Identify ties between various issues and create connections between concepts that overlap.

8. Eat a balanced diet and get plenty of sleep.

This makes it look like an obvious thing, but working smarter, not harder, is all about having plenty of sleep, nourishing your body with nutritious foods, and doing some exercises.

It is easier to find yourself in a  bad habit, especially when you are overwhelmed with work.   You are likely to lose your concentration and deplete your energy.   Take good care of yourself.

9. Use of acronyms

The use of acronyms is another way of working smarter.

When you come across challenging words, formulas, and names, using acronyms can be an excellent way to establish remembrance of these formulas and


Acronyms can help you break down complex concepts and make them easier to remember.

10. Understand your studying

There are four types of studying that is emotional, auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.

  • Visual learner:  visual learner understands best when information is in the form of maps, charts, or brainstorming
  • Auditory learners: auditory learners understand best when they listen to information from the lecturer or their friends.
  • Emotional learners: These kinds of learners understand most effectively when the concept is associated with emotions, feelings, and vivid images.
  • Kinesthetic learners: these learner learn best when the concept can be felt and experienced—learning needs to be more practical.

To work smarter and not harder, you need to know which type of learning is suitable for you.

Once you understand what kind of a learner you are, align your study with it to make the most out of it. can help you work smarter, not harder, to achieve your professional target.

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